The Hub is pleased to offer this, the first of a thought-provoking three-part series on education from the perspective of a current local teacher.
With two months to go before school begins again, negotiations with teachers continuing, a new leader of the Opposition, and three years to go before both a school board and a provincial election, it may be the perfect opportunity to step back and give the education system some real consideration. Send us your take on the subject at owensoundhub.org.


-by John Fearnall

So, with 10 years to go in my teaching career, here is my list of 10 ways to immediately improve education:
#1 Eliminate school boards (The System)

Like the factory model, the Board model no longer does what it was meant to. Boards have little or no effect on what is taught locally. Their only purpose appears to be delivering information from and acting as a buffer for the Ministry.
The majority of the people at this level have not had experience in the classroom for many years. They are out of touch. The Board decisions could and should be made at the school level, where the people making these choices have to face the consequences of these decisions.
Boards are more concerned with how things look (optics) than how things are (transparency) which means they are hurting learning. A lot of money is spent at this level that would be better spent in our schools.
In my 20+ years of teaching, I cannot think of one problem in education my Board has solved. But I can name a number that they have created.
But maybe that's the point. I once heard a retiring teacher say, "The people at the Board office have no interest in solving the problems; they just want to reorganize the problems. Because if they solved the problems, they'd be out of a job."


#2 on my list of Top 10 ways to immediately improve education:
Amalgamate our Public and Separate Schools
Okay, so I realize suggestion #1 has some holes in it. It does not make sense to decentralize everything. We will still need some sort of a business manager and staff (although these jobs can still work out of our schools - see #3). But if we are going to centralize, let's centralize ALL of our schools.
Combining our public and separate schools under one manager will eliminate the duplication of services and save money that can be used elsewhere (It may also level the playing field). And since all of the education related decisions will be made at the school level, we can still maintain our faith-based schools, if we so choose.


#3 on my list of Top 10 ways to immediately improve education:
Close and sell school board Administration Centres
With the elimination of many of the jobs at the Administration Level (see #1), closing the very expensive Admin Centres will free up money that can be put directly into schools. In our board, where there has been a decline in enrolment for a number of years which has led to excess space in schools, this would be a perfect opportunity to use some of that space. (I should mention that this is something I suggested before our most recent admin centre was built with little support. I was mocked by the admin who basically told me it was a ridiculous idea. Now my federation has suggested this as a way to cut costs).
Not only that, but it would also send a very strong message that schools and learning are at the centre of everything we do, as they should be.


John Fearnall has taught high school for the past 22 years. He is a founding member of MendEd (Mending Education) and will continue to ask the question, "Does anyone care about education?" until he retires.


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